That End-of-Year Feeling Again

Pretty soon, football will resume with 6-6's playing 6-6's.

Pretty soon, football will resume with 6-6’s playing 6-6’s.

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, December 14, 2014, 10:15 a.m.

Football is in the pre-bowl doldrums (bowldrums?), or, if the NFL is your bailiwick, the pre-playoff blahs. NASCAR has been reduced for now to reports of tire testing from the various frontiers. Baseball players are moving and counting their money. Basketball teams are forming their images with the hodgepodge of games between teams of vastly different skill levels and geography. I can’t get too excited about hockey until the playoffs start.

The quiet won’t linger. Navy won’t have as much time to prepare for its modest bowl appearance as it did to formulate the strategy to defeat Army for the thirteenth year in a row. A common remark in the next few weeks will be that there are entirely too many bowl games, uttered, tweeted, posted, rumored and overheard by people watching more of them than they will ever admit.

Hanging in there.

Hanging in there.

I suppose I could use this space to identify what piqued my attention in 2014. Well, I’ve still got more than two weeks. I may do it, and I may not. Right now, I need to think it through. I may do it, and I may not. Oh, yeah. I wrote that already.

As always, the difference is vast between what happened and what I’ll remember. For instance, a few weeks ago, I mysteriously hurt my knee. If surgery had been performed, I’m sure I’d remember it. However, since my medical professionals have agreed just to let it sit, arthritic and cranky, for now, my knee feels just about the way it has for three or four years, which is weakened, and unreliable, but serviceable as long as I pay attention to what I am doing. Nothing is memorable about this.

Looking back on my writing, I wrote about half a western (Cowboys Come Home) that I abandoned simply because I’m not a juggler and too many balls were in the air. For most of the year, I worked on a crime novel called Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Then I sat the first draft aside and went back to ready another, Crazy of Natural Causes, for eventual publication. That’s done. It’s either good or better.

Twenty Fourteen was the year I started writing short stories, though some of them go back a little farther. The anniversary of my fiction blog,, just passed. About fifteen months ago, I started sketching, and that led, quite naturally, to accompanying my short stories with sketches. I think I’ve gotten better. This was the first:

My Pawless guitar has helped me write many songs.

My Pawless guitar has helped me write many songs.

This is the most recent:

This woman I concocted for my current short story.

This woman I concocted for my current short story.

Now I’ve been collecting all those short stories into one volume, which is titled Longer Songs. The reason for the title is that many of the short stories were based on, or at least originated in, songs I had written. I wrote a song based on observing two people conversing in a bar. The song (“Stuck in a Rut”) didn’t include them going on a desperate, disastrous road trip to L.A. Such flights of fancy took off from the songs and carried me with them.

This year I learned that NASCAR is bold enough to try almost anything, that football points are often easier to come by than basketball points, that it’s possible for the Kansas City Royals to play in the World Series, and that the winner of one World Series can finish last the following year. I knew the last, but the Boston Red Sox reminded me.

Year’s end leaves me believing in fewer things, continuing a trend that seems of recent vintage but is probably just what happens with age. Recent years have seen my faith in John Edwards, Joe Paterno, and Bill Cosby obliterated, and in cops and clergy, tested. I must remember the age-old words of the Jackson Five: “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch of girls. I don’t care what they say. Don’t you give up on love.”

Love. Hah. At this point of my life, what “they say” about “love” applies to “life.” All’s fair in life and war, not to mention redundancy. Life. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. The last time I fell in love was several years back. I got a song out of it.

This year I’ve worked hard. Next year comes success. When I was a boy, I read about men who went out to make their fortunes. I didn’t expect it to take so long. I write. It’s what I know how to do. If I do enough of it, I will continue to improve, and, in theory, someone out there is bound to notice. Next I’d like to be an overnight sensation.

Making up Riley Mansfield was fun.

Making up Riley Mansfield was fun.

In the meantime, do me the continued favor of reading in general and reading me in particular. If you’ve a desire to help measurably, read these:


About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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7 Responses to That End-of-Year Feeling Again

  1. Al says:

    Had to chuckle some reading this blog. The University of Maryland is playing in the Foster Farms bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Lara, California. I don’t follow college football and I pay no attention to the bowl games. I do wonder where they come up with these bowl games. Hell I live in Annapolis 12 minutes from the Navy-Marine Corp. Stadium and didn’t even know there was a Military Bowl played there. Somewhere they should have an American-Standard Toilet Bowl. Maybe in Crapo, Md.
    Does anyone know anything about Foster Farms? Just like NASCAR you don’t have to have a championship season to make it to bowl games. Maryland and Stanford had 7-5 season. Wow!

  2. Monte says:

    The Santa Clara game is at the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. Some bowl teams are 6-6.

  3. Roger Miller says:

    What do fans do when their chooses favorite driver retires? Is it the same without a rooting interest? Do I begin to just root against certain drivers not having success ? My driver hasn’t parked it yet but it’s getting close. I can’t just jump on the next kid to get into the car he drivers just doesn’t feel right. I guess I could root for the manufacturer but that’s about a third of the field……. Any suggestions?

  4. Dave Fulton says:

    Al, the Foster Farms folks have had several recalls this past year of their various chicken products (including corn dogs) because of listeria, etc. By the way, the Kane Plumbing folks once sponsored the Driver of the Year awards… almost as good as the Toilet Bowl.

  5. Dave Fulton says:

    I made a big goof. It was ELJER – the maker of toilets and urinals who once sponsored the Driver of the Year Award. I believe Bill Elliott in 1985 was the first driver to be bestowed with the Eljer toilet seat.

  6. Roger Miller: “What do fans do when their chooses favorite driver retires? … My driver hasn’t parked it yet but it’s getting close. I can’t just jump on the next kid to get into the car he drivers just doesn’t feel right.”

    If you get any suggestions, pass ’em along. I am a Petty Lifer. I haven’t found a new favorite driver since the King retired following Atlanta in November 1992!

  7. Roger Miller:
    I was a Dale Earnhardt (the original) fan from his rookie year forward. Dale will be gone 14 years come February, but I am still a Dale Earnhardt fan and always will be. There are drivers today that I thoroughly enjoy watching on the track… Brad Keselowski and anyone named Kyle for openers… but there will never be another driver that awakens that love of the sport in me that Dale did.
    I must say that I admire your choice of drivers. I watched Jeff Gordon come up through sprints and midgets on Thursday Night Thunder, all those years ago, and still enjoy watching him today. The only thing I can’t figure out is where did those years go in-between then and now?

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